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July 06, 2007

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» Early Stage Sales leads are too important for salespeople alone from B2B Lead Generation Blog
The management of sales leads is critical to generating Return on Marketing Investment. Sadly, sales leads often land on the scrap heap because marketers throw leads over the wall and then expect sales people to catch them. Last year, I [Read More]

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Reg Nordman

Absolutely. At our firm our research shows that setting the bar for "qualified" leads much much higher than the norm allows the lead nurturing process to work. This is another example of supplying the buyers buying process with the needed parts of the selling process, not the other way around. The buyer is in charge.

Kevin

I would disagree partly with this assessment. If a prospect comes to your website with an expressed interest, then clearly there is a desire for more information. The best way to determine their needs is through a phone call.

As a salesperson I can determine where the prospect fits within the sales cycle. If they are not ready to engage in the sales process then I can put them on the relevant follow-up system using information I have gathered on the call. What this takes is a phone call, a good CRM system that will allow me to capture relevant information, and an easy ability to let Marketing know the prospects needs.

Brad Shorr

When in doubt, ask the customer. Contact Us pages on a Web site and email responses to customer inquiries ought to include the question--"Would you like to have a salesperson contact you now?"

Dianna Huff

Kevin, But the problem is that many salespeople aren't calling to determine where one fits into the sales cycle. I hate it when sales people call me because all I've done is download a white paper or some other info. I'm not ready to talk yet.

Mark Forman

I would say that the leads should be turned over to better and correctly trained salesmen. They would know how to probe and qualify and can even direct more marketing materials that way if needed.

Farrah Haidar

I would have to agree with Brad. Too often salespeople are only interested in the "kill". This is especially true when with short sales cycles and commission-based compensation. I have also gotten complaints from sales people that marketing only gives "crappy leads" when a web lead is immediately passed off to sales.

If your sales force is disciplined enough to make a nurturing call and then tell marketing where they are at in the sales cycle, great! Go for it! But, if they're not, you have to find alternatives.

I think that asking the customer is good. Also, monitoring the customer's behavior is key (although this requires a pretty good CRM system). You can follow - number of times they visited the site, number of items downloaded, response to thank you e-mails, etc... The more activity, the hotter the lead.

Kevin

To Brad's point I agree. You don't want to receive a call if you've just gone to the website to download a white paper. On the web form it should be easy to say no to being contacted. When I download software I am always given an option to be on a mailing list. My preference is to say no since I don't want to receive spam.

As a salesperson I don't particularly want to speak to someone who is not ready. However what I do find is that people appreciate the call, even if the call is to say, did the download go okay? Was their something specific you were looking for? Do you need pricing? People tend to respond positively.

If the customer is not ready to engage then it's a simple question of would you like to be on our mailing list?

This post talks to a bigger issue of what is the best mix of sales and marketing processes.

David Daniels at LaunchClinic.com

I absolutely agree with your position. A key role of marketing is to supply qualified leads to sales, not just a big bucket of them. There is nothing more frustrating to a marketer than to work his butt off to generate a requested number of leads to find out they weren't followed up or deemed useless. I would go even further and say that lead generation of any kind, including inside sales, should be a marketing function and not a sales function.

From a sales perspective leads are binary - either the lead is ready to buy or they're not. In reality leads go through stages of maturity that, depending on the nature of the sale, may require careful cultivation. Lead generation should be rewarded (compensated) based on sales acceptance of the lead. We do it for outsourced lead generation so why shouldn't we do it internally? That would change the game entirely.

--Dave Daniels
www.launchclinic.com

ED

Very good topic and important as marketing role must evolve to focus not just brand building and demand generation but also sales optimization. I say evolve in the context of hi-tech marketing as marketing’s role in other industries is very different.

One of the core issues between sales and marketing is the definition of that little thing called a lead. What is a lead? I don’t know but I sure know one when I see it.

Classifying leads as warm, hot or cold just breeds the issues that you mention, like the great leaky lead pipe. What one sales rep views as hot, another views as cold and this is the start of the problem. I won’t get into lack of visible reporting and standardized lead gt processes…lets save that for another day.

Sirius Decisions has promoted a “lead scoring” methodology and I feel this is the way to go. It lets you define lead quality based on tight definitions attached to a lead score and is much more precise than cold, warm or hot. Now marketing is more precisely able to discuss what sales exactly what type of lead they want passed.

Now that we’re passing leads we must always remember to build in Nurturing as part of every marketing program. Just as they may be an inquiry gen campaign we also need nurturing campaigns. To waste money on SEM and not nurture is criminal.

Nurturing is pretty simple and can be as pragmatic or as sophisticated as one wants. We just did a study on our online community and determine beyond statistical doubt that there is a high correlation between online community contacts and closed deals. Online communities can be great nurturing tools.

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